The 2015 Stella Prize Longlist announced!

The longlist for the 2015 Stella Prize has just been announced, and what an exciting list of Australian authors!

Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria Miles Franklin, The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature, awarded last year to Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself with the help of Booktopia.


The Golden Age

by Joan London

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia’s most loved novelists.

He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.

The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.

Written in Joan London’s customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection. It is a rare and precious gem of a book from one of Australia’s finest novelists.

About the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here


The Strays

by Emily Bitto

In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists. They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan. At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena’s daughter Eva.

Lily is infatuated by the world she bears witness to, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family. As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

About the Author

Emily Bitto lives in Melbourne. She has a Masters in literary studies and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne, where she is also a sessional teacher and supervisor in the creative writing program. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Heat, Harvest, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Literary Review. The manuscript of her debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Grab a copy of The Strays here


This House of Grief

by Helen Garner

Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain.

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict.

In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice.

This House of Grief is a heartbreaking and unputdownable book by one of Australia’s most admired writers.

About the Author

Helen Garner was born in Geelong in 1942. She has published many works of fiction including Monkey Grip, Cosmo Cosmolino and The Children’s Bach. Her fiction has won numerous awards. She is also one of Australia’s most respected non-fiction writers, and received a Walkley Award for journalism in 1993. In 2006 she won the Melbourne Prize for Literature.

Grab a copy of This House of Grief here


Foreign Soil

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.

Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award 2013.

In Melbourne’s western suburbs, in a dilapidated block of flats overhanging the rattling Footscray train lines, a young black mother is working on a collection of stories.

The book is called Foreign Soil. Inside its covers, a desperate asylum seeker is pacing the hallways of Sydney’s notorious Villawood detention centre, a seven-year-old Sudanese boy has found solace in a patchwork bike, an enraged black militant is on the warpath through the rebel squats of 1960s Brixton, a Mississippi housewife decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her son from small-town ignorance, a young woman leaves rural Jamaica in search of her destiny, and a Sydney schoolgirl loses her way.

The young mother keeps writing, the rejection letters keep arriving…

About the Author

Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent and the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron Is On Parole (Picaro Press, 2009) and Nothing Here Needs Fixing (Picaro Press, forthcoming). As a spoken word performer, Maxine’s work has been delivered on stages and airways, and in festivals across the country. Her short fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Big Issue, Cordite Poetry Review, Harvest, Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, Unusual Work and Peril. Maxine lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

Grab a copy of Foreign Soil here


Heat and Light

by Ellen Van Neerven

In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.

Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, van Neerven offers a futuristic imagining of a people whose existence is under threat. While in ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.

Heat and Light presents a surprising and unexpected narrative journey while heralding the arrival of an exciting new talent in Australian writing.

About the Author

Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage. She belongs to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim. She won the David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards for Heat and Light.

Grab a copy of Heat and Light here


Laurinda

by Alice Pung

When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway and the enormous sign in iron cursive letters spelling out LAURINDA. No ‘Ladies College’ after it, of course; the name was meant to speak for itself.

Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its secret core is the Cabinet, a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates – and some of their teachers.

Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the Cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.

Funny, feisty and moving, Laurinda explores Lucy’s struggle to stay true to herself as she finds her way in a new world of privilege and opportunity.

About the Author

Alice Pung is the author of Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter and the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia. Alice’s work has appeared in the Monthly, Good Weekend, The Age, The Best Australian Stories and Meanjin.

Grab a copy of Laurinda here


Golden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

About the Author

Sonya Hartnett’s work has won numerous Australian and international literary prizes and has been published around the world. Uniquely, she is acclaimed for her stories for adults, young adults and children. Her accolades include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Of A Boy), The Age Book of the Year (Of A Boy), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (Thursday’s Child), the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for both Older and Younger Readers (Forest, The Silver Donkey, The Ghost’s Child, The Midnight Zoo and The Children of the King), the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Surrender), shortlistings for the Miles Franklin Award (for both Of a Boy and Butterfly) and the CILP Carnegie Medal (The Midnight Zoo). Hartnett is also the first Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (2008).

Grab a copy of Golden Boys here


Nest

by Inga Simpson

Once an artist and teacher, Jen now spends her time watching the birds around her house and tending her lush sub-tropical garden near the small town where she grew up. The only person she sees regularly is Henry, who comes after school for drawing lessons. When a girl in Henry’s class goes missing, Jen is pulled back into the depths of her own past.

When she was Henry’s age she lost her father and her best friend Michael – both within a week. The whole town talked about it then, and now, nearly forty years later, they’re talking about it again. Everyone is waiting – for the girl to be found and the summer rain to arrive. At last, when the answers do come, like the wet, it is in a drenching, revitalising downpour.

About the Author

Inga Simpson is a fresh new voice in Australian writing. She is inspired by regular people and the changing seasons of their lives. Inga began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writer’s Centre Manuscript Development Program and as a result, Hachette published her first novel, the acclaimed Mr Wigg, in 2013.

Grab a copy of Nest here


The Invisible History of the Human Race

by Christine Kenneally

We are doomed to repeat history if we fail to learn from it, but how are we affected by the forces that are invisible to us?

In The Invisible History of the Human Race Christine Kenneally draws on cutting-edge research to reveal how both historical artifacts and DNA tell us where we come from and where we may be going. While some books explore our genetic inheritance and popular television shows celebrate ancestry, this is the first book to explore how everything from DNA to emotions to names and the stories that form our lives are all part of our human legacy. Kenneally shows how trust is inherited in Africa, silence is passed down in Tasmania, and how the history of nations is written in our DNA. From fateful, ancient encounters to modern mass migrations and medical diagnoses, Kenneally explains how the forces that shaped the history of the world ultimately shape each human who inhabits it.

About the Author

Christine Kenneally is Australian and received her Ph.D. in linguistics at Cambridge. She has written about language, science, and culture for publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, Scientific American, Discover, and Slate..

Grab a copy of Invisible History of the Human Race here


In My Mother’s Hands

by Biff Ward

Poignant and moving memoir of Elizabeth Ward, known to one and all as Biff, who grew up in the 1950s in a household that tiptoed around her mother’s demons and her father’s fame.

There are secrets in this family. Before Biff and her younger brother, Mark, there was baby Alison, who drowned in her bath because, it was said, her mother was distracted. Biff too, lives in fear of her mother’s irrational behaviour and paranoia, and she is always on guard and fears for the safety of her brother. As Biff grows into teenage hood, there develops a conspiratorial relationship between her and her father, who is a famous and gregarious man, trying to keep his wife’s problems a family secret. This was a time when the insane were committed and locked up in Dickensian institutions; whatever his problems her father was desperate to save his wife from that fate. But also to protect his children from the effects of living with a tragically disturbed mother.

In My Mother’s Hands is a beautifully written and emotionally perplexing coming-of-age true story about growing up in an unusual family.

About the Author

Biff has worked in radical secondary education, equal opportunity, Indigenous adult education, human resource development and mental illness education. She has had a peripatetic writing career, including writing Father-Daughter Rape, a feminist analysis of the literature from Freud to the early 80s about child sexual abuse (csa) before that term was invented. It was published by The Women’s Press in London in 1984. Her poetry and essays appeared in anthologies in the 80s and 90s. Her memoir, In My Mother’s Hands, is about her family’s experience of her mother’s mental illness at the same time that her father, Russel Ward, was writing The Australian Legend. Biff has three children and four grandchildren. She lives on the Monaro, in Canberra.

Grab a copy of In My Mother’s Hands here


The Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

Sofie Laguna’s first novel One Foot Wrong received rave reviews, sold all over the world and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. In The Eye of the Sheep, her great originality and talent will again amaze and move readers. In the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, here is a surprising and brilliant novel from one of our finest writers.

About the Author

Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the Sheep here


Only the Animals

by Ceridwen Dovey

Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods?

Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman’s present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

About the Author

Ceridwen Dovey was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and went to high school in Sydney. She did her undergraduate study at Harvard, and spent a year as research assistant for the current affairs program NOW with Bill Moyers. She wrote her novel Blood Kin as her thesis for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town, and has a PhD in anthropology from New York University. She now lives in Sydney.

Grab a copy of Only the Animals here

7PM INTERVIEW: Monica McInerney on writing, family, and the joys of a middle childhood

Warm, witty, fun and clever, author Monica McInerney would be a great best friend to have. How nice to be able to turn to Monica for advice about family, love, life and friendship whenever we needed it! She is so heart smart!

Alas, we can’t all have Monica in our life. Thank goodness we have her novels. They are the next best thing to having a 24hr on call Monica… and they have sold hundreds of thousands of copies here and in the UK.

On her recent Australian tour, Monica sat down with John Purcell to talk about her new novel, Hello from the Gillespies…

Click here for more details or to buy Hello from the GillespiesHello from the Gillespies

By Monica McInerney

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth.

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping poorly with retirement. Her 32-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways.

7PM INTERVIEW: Bestselling author Liane Moriarty talks to John Purcell about her new book Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty has become one of the biggest novelists in the US market, yet she still hasn’t become a household name in her native Australia. She chats with John Purcell about her career and latest book Big Little Lies. A book John has read and highly recommends. He thinks it one of the best books of 2014!

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’

‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead.

Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate. The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

‘Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.’

Click here to grab a copy of Big Little Lies 

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: If you ever borrow a book from me, give it back! By Ellie O’Neill, author of Reluctantly Charmed

ellioneill

Author: Ellie O’Neill

If you ever borrow a book from me give it back to me. It’s probably a book that I’ve told you about. A book, that I’ve clasped my hands in excitement, and smiled and sighed dreamily trying to explain it to you. It might be a book that I ran my hand across the front cover like I was stroking a pet. It’s probably a book that I held to my chest when I finished reading, lovingly absorbing its’ truth.

When you read it you might find that some pages are close to falling out, that’s where you’ll see a passage I loved so much I had to revisit it again and again, to record it, to feel it, to lose myself once more. It might remind me of a time in my life, a love affair, a sandy beach, a cocktail with an umbrella in it.

When I give you one of my favorite books I’m letting you see a piece of me, a private piece of me. You thought you knew me but you don’t. This book gives me shivers.

This book makes me think.

This book makes me laugh.

This book hurts me.

And if you don’t feel the same way, I will briefly question why we are friends. Then I’ll remember it doesn’t matter, you will have your favorite books too. But please remember if you borrow a book from me give it back to me.


Ellie O’Neill’s Reluctantly Charmed is a featured title in Simon and Schuster’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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reluctantly-charmedReluctantly Charmed

by Ellie O’Neill

Witty, enchanting and utterly addictive, Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of life, love and its possibilities … and a little bit of magic

It’s Kate McDaid’s birthday and she’s hoping to kickstart her rather stagnant love-life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great-great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.

Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Instantly, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil the final, devastating step of the request . . . or whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.

Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities… and a little bit of magic.

Ellie O’Neill’s Reluctantly Charmed is a featured title in Simon and Schuster’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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Take a trip away with Cathy Kelly’s It Started with Paris

A new Cathy Kelly novel isn’t far away, with It Started with Paris sure to be another bestseller, a beautiful tale about love, friendship and facing your demons.

it-started-with-parisIt Started with Paris

by Cathy Kelly

It all started with Paris.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland…

Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it. And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband.

After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake? With her warmth and insight, Cathy Kelly weaves a delightful tale spinning out from a once-in-a-lifetime moment, drawing together a terrific cast of characters who feel like old friends. It Started With Paris is the sparkling new novel from Number 1 bestseller Cathy Kelly.

Grab a copy of Cathy Kelly’s It Started with Paris here

Congrats to the following Facebook fans who have won an uncorrected proof copy of It Started with Paris. Please email your details to promos@booktopia.com.au and we’ll get your copies out to you ASAP!

Amanda Smoothy, Colleen Duerkop, Bernie Curtain, Steffi O’Brien, Lisa-Marie Ford, Stevie Lee, Taylor-Jane Bennett, Christina Bawden, Deborah Barry, Alison Armstrong

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Anita Heiss, author of Tiddas, in conversation with Caroline Baum

9781922052261Tiddas

by Anita Heiss

A story about what it means to be a friend …

Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck.

Izzy, soon to be the first Black woman with her own television show, has to make a decision that will change everything. Veronica, recently divorced and dedicated to raising the best sons in the world, has forgotten who she is. Xanthe, desperate for a baby, can think of nothing else, even at the expense of her marriage. Nadine, so successful at writing other people’s stories, is determined to blot out her own. Ellen, footloose by choice, begins to question all that she’s fought for.

When their circle begins to fracture and the old childhood ways don’t work anymore, is their sense of sistahood enough to keep it intact? How well do these tiddas really know each other?

Read Caroline Baum’s Review

In Anita Heiss’ latest, likeable and breezy novel, five women, best friends (Tiddas means friend in northern Koori) for decades, meet to talk about each other’s lives at their book group. Romance and career dilemmas, baby yearnings, all get aired and shared with laughter and tears over chai lattes and in between sessions of retail therapy and Bikram yoga.

The lifestyle is upwardly mobile, the setting is urban Brisbane and the woman are justifiably proud of their status, earning power and confidence while never forgetting that their bonds of sisterhood have been passed down through a culture of strong women.

About the Author

Dr Anita Heiss is the bestselling author of Not Meeting Mr Right and Avoiding Mr Right, both published by Bantam Australia. Anita was recognised for Outstanding Achievement in Literature in the 2010 and 2011 Deadly Awards for her novels Manhattan Dreaming and Paris Dreaming. A writer, satirist, activist, social commentator and occasional academic, Anita is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and a board member of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy. She lives in Sydney and but dreams of living in New York.

Grab a copy of Tiddas here

Josephine Moon, author of The Tea Chest, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

9781743317877The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Josephine Moon

author of The Tea Chest

Ten Terrifying Questions

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Brisbane and raised in the north-western suburbs. I went to three Catholic schools, St William’s Primary School in Grovely, St Benedict’s College in Wilston and Mt Maria Senior College in Mitchelton. And yes, I had real life nuns as teachers. Some were beautiful, some have scarred me for life!

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be veterinarian because I adored animals and wanted to work with them. At eighteen, having recently discovered that physics and I didn’t get on, and therefore I couldn’t get into vet school, I wanted to be an ecologist. But not long after that I realised that statistics and I didn’t get on either. Problem! So, then I changed my degree to journalism because I knew I wanted to write and I actually had aptitude for that. At thirty I was desperate to be a novelist and had been writing seriously for many years.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I believed an ensemble consisting of black jeans, a flannelette shirt, too much jewellery and Doc Marten boots was cool.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Josephine Moon

Author Josephine Moon

When I was younger, I borrowed a copy of a short story collection by Jeffrey Archer. It is the only thing of his I’ve ever read. But I remember thinking, as I got to the end of that book, that I could do this. I could write. Because until then, I’d had a belief that I didn’t have enough vocabulary—that I didn’t know enough ‘big words’. And I am not for a second saying that Jeffrey Archer was in any way lacking. But I noticed clearly how he had a great skill for using ordinary words in extraordinary ways. And for some reason that was a huge boost for me.

I’m going to cheat a bit here for the next two nominations. I’m nominating the whole of the city of Paris. That place blew my mind. And Paris has made an appearance in my next book and there’s definitely some of my own experiences and emotions in there. And lastly, I’m nominating Radio National, which is consistently entertaining, obscure, fascinating and intelligent and is a constant source of inspiration for my writing.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

A friend of mine recently did a big clean up and found heaps of letters I’d written to her through school and for years afterwards. And another friend once reflected on the amount of emails I sent her while she was overseas and said that I was a prolific writer. And I thought, gosh, am I?? Apparently, I just couldn’t shut up!

I don’t know that it was ever a decision, as such, to write a novel over pursuing other forms of writing, as much as it was an acceptance of what I was drawn to do. The burning desire to write books just didn’t go away. In some ways it was easier just to say, okay, I accept it, now let me get on with it.

97817433178776. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Kate Fullerton, lead tea designer at The Tea Chest, has just inherited 50% of the company from her mentor and must decide what she will risk for her young family to take a chance on herself to follow her dreams. Set across Brisbane and London, with a backdrop of delectable teas and tastes, lavender fields and vintage clothes, The Tea Chest is a gourmet delight you won’t want to finish.

Grab a copy of The Tea Chest here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Joy, inspiration, a sense of empowerment to follow their dreams.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I am in awe of any writer who can write a good quality novel every year. I’d love to be able to do that one day but, right now, I take far too much time ‘marinating’ my work (i.e. leaving it alone for months so I can look at it with fresh eyes). I think that’s an incredible skill to be able to write and assess your work and know where to take it next in such a short time.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Interesting question! I just said to my husband recently, ‘You know what I’ve just realised? I need to set new goals!’ Because, since 1999, the only goal I had was ‘to be published by a big publishing house’. Now that’s happened, I actually need to re-evaluate where I’m going from here.

And right now, with a twenty-two-month-old son running around, my only ambition is to get to a point where I can stay up late enough to watch Offspring rather than having to catch up online later in the week.

I think it’s time to aim a little higher.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Be curious. People often say to write what you know. But I think you need to write about what you want to know.

Josephine, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Tea Chest here

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